Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Shakespeare Sunday

Where did my week go? That's what I've been asking myself for the past couple of days. Our school district had Friday off, but I had signed up to attend a Shakespeare conference all day. At first, I really just wanted to back out on the conference and stay home to get a few things done, but now I'm pretty glad I went. The conference turned out to be a great choice, and really inspiring.

I don't know how many of you might agree, but I've never been a terribly huge fan of Shakespeare. I know...gasp. How could it be? Truth be told, I always saw Shakespeare as something that was so high brow that I needed to be ready to engage my brain, to read with a pen, and to be ready to cross reference. I don't know that I've read Shakespeare in any other way!

At this conference, the professors there taught us new things to do in the teaching of Shakespeare that I found really exciting. Here are the things I learned:
  • We can use Shakespeare's plays to do "Table Talks" where students read a scene and determine what is meant in the scene, and ways they might deliver it to the rest of the class.
  • That students should be like the "groundlings" of Shakespeare's original plays by being an active part in the reading and acting of the play, that actors CAN and should include the audience.
  • Students should get on their feet and read lines out loud, to feel the way the words sound in their mouths. (Most fun was when we were asked to use insults Shakespeare included in his plays and to roam around and sling them at someone. How fun to call someone a maggot pie!)
  • Props should be used as a way of determining emotions and ideas not expressed through the words.
In short, I learned that Shakespeare can be best enjoyed through active engagement with it. I don't know that I can do that when I need to just read a play, but I'll definitely address more of these as I teach his work in the future.

As for this Sunday, I'll be trying to get through some of my library books, as I have six new books waiting for me, and I'm at my limit for number to be checked out!


  1. I have to say, I would love to join in on a Shakespeare class, but probably not on university but on highschool level. I have never read all plays by shakespeare and I would love to get some support on reading him. I find it hard to just read his work, without being able to share thoughts and discuss what I have read. I agree that it feels like you really need to sit down and think hard on what you have read. It's not something I'd pick up as 'light reading'.

    I'm glad you liked your conference. It's often so unpredictable whether it will be very interesting or extremely boriung. The few conferences I've attended thus far have only been one or the other, somehow there's not often one that's somewhere in between.

  2. I love that cartoon! I think that to myself every day... ;)

    I actually thing Shakespeare is really fun. I don't enjoy reading his plays to myself, but I do like watching them performed on stage or in movies. My favorite Shakespeare play is actually MacBeth--I know, you would think it would be Romeo & Juliet or Midsummer Night's Dream or something, but I just adore the angst and moral morass in MacBeth.

  3. Candletea--I'm not always a Shakespeare fan (surprising for an English teacher), but this conference really changed my opinions on a lot of things!

    Heidenkind--I'll enjoy watching them more from now on, that's for sure! :)